Monday, December 29, 2008

Who to blame for Gaza crisis

I am sitting in an office in Jerusalem as I write this piece about Israel’s attack on Gaza.

But I want to be clear that I have no more insight into the crisis than if I were sitting in my condo in Chicago looking at the snow. The only difference is I spend my day with Israelis, but life here, in Jerusalem, is normal and seemingly safe.

A coworker and I joked yesterday that if he gets called up to the reserves, he will be getting shot at as I phone him for directions to get from one place to another. (This is my first time driving in Israel.)

“Sharna, this is kind of bad time,” he joked holding his phone to his ear.
“But I can’t figure out how to get to this hotel in Talpiyot; it will only take a minute.”

Today’s news is focusing on the rising death toll in Gaza and the outrage of the Arab population against the Arab League that has not met about the attacks. Also in the Jordanian parliament a member lit an Israeli flag on fire and then stepped on it to put out the fire. (smart guy! He could have burned down the fake parliament. If a fake parliament burns, does anyone smell it?)

Perhaps I am being too glib in the wake of this humanitarian catastrophe. But how can I be anything else when this situation was predictable six months ago when the Egyptians negotiated the so called cease fire otherwise known as time to amass weapons for Hamas and time for Israel to spy from the air where Hamas is amassing the weapons? Or the cease fire where Hamas was firing rockets into towns in southern Israel as the Israelis in Southern Israel are terrified and furious with its government for not caring about them or as the song here says, “coffee at home in Tel Aviv, rockets at home in the South.”

This situation is a failure of the international community and of the Arab League, not to mention the power vacuum in Washington. Indeed, the populace of Arab states should be angry about the situation in Gaza. However, their viciousness is misguided as it is fueled by hatred of Israel, Anti Semitism and Anti Americanism. Their message gets lost in their burning effigies.

What they should be angry about is that during this cease fire the nations of the Arab League and the International Community should have been bettering the lives of the Gazans through building of schools, hospitals, industry, etc. instead of twiddling their thumbs awaiting the cease fire to break and all hell to break loose. Instead the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is some strange pawn in an International game where Israelis and many, many Palestinians end up being the big losers.

Remember, Egypt has a border with Gaza. It’s not Israel’s (sole) responsibility to help Gaza (who elected a government – Hamas - that doesn’t recognize Israel’s existence and tosses rockets into its southern cities to rebuild its infrastructure. Arab governments could have been smuggling in supplies and blockaded the Iranian weaponry.

This conflict serves Arab governments in many ways: it raises the cost of oil, it provides a bargaining chip for Arab governments in terms of its relationships with the Security Council, and perhaps mostly importantly, when Israel attacks Gaza it serves as a distraction from their own countries’ failings and demonizes the Jewish state in the eyes of the media and the international community.


Anonymous said...

Let us not forget it was NOT the Isreali's who broke the cease fire. As long as any group of people fire rockets at civilian targets and the rest of that population does nothing to stop their fellow brothers and sisters from doing so, then they get what they deserve. If the Palestinians policed themselves this might not happen. But being they do not, then if thousands of them must die to stop the terrorism and the attacks then so be it.

Anonymous said...

VERY well said, Sharna.

Michael J. Szanto said...


You make many good points. Hamas is in fact pretty much a Nazi organization. Their charter calls on the slaughter of Jews basically everywhere. Their leadership revels in the massacre of Jewish civillians in cafes, discos, cafes, etc. They refuse to accept Israel in any form or any manner.

It is strange that the Israeli operations are provoking such outrages from so many indignant people. When the Ethiopians invaded Somalia a couple years ago to fight other violent religious extremists the fighting was far bloodier and the firing far less targeted. For that matter even when the US had to go into Mogadishu to pursue terrorists who murdered Pakistani peacekeepers back in the early 1990s at least 1000 Somalians died---maybe more like 3000.

So why all this hysteria when Israel targets a racist terrorist group? The other key issue is if groups ever were able to bring missiles like those in Gaza into the West Bank, most Israeli towns and cities would fall under fire. Then the damage would be far greater than the targeting of the currenly fairly sparsely populated Negev.

Michael J. Szanto said...

I do have to disagree with you on one point to a certain extent. Most Arab Governments do not want this crisis. The crisis does not really raise much the price of oil--we are only at around $40 now. Egypt for example, doesn't even have oil and was suffering the rise of commodity prices back this summer.

They do not need this instability. Unfortunately, among the Arab masses, Nasrallah, Hamas, and Ahmadinejad are the most popular. This crisis threatens the stability of most Arab states, which pleases the radical governments in Syria and Iran. Ahmadinejad's fans in the Arab World are certain to be shocked when Ahmadinejad is almost certain to lose in the Iranian elections this spring unless the ruling clerics and Pasdaran choose to aggressively intervene to rig the elections. They've done this before. While Ahmadinejad's defeat will not really effect Iran's policies, it will be a shock to the Arab masses seeing him defeated by his own people.

Hamas which was originally an offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood is a huge threat to the Egyptian Government. They have increasingly been tied to Hezbollah and Iran who are also clearly enemies of the Egyptian Government.

The moderate Arab governments that make up our allies can be faulted in continuing to allow anti-Semitic and extremely anti-Israeli popaganda on their media which remains largely under Government control. They, however, have a tacit desire for Israel to crush Hamas. You see in the last few days, Egyptian officials saying that Hezbollah has practically declared war against them and reiterating their demand that Hamas cede control of the Gaza to Fatah.

Michael J. Szanto said...

whoops, I should say that Egypt does have some oil, but not to an extent that their economy is particularly tied to it. They make a lot of money off of tourism, US AID, the Suez Canal, and agricultural exports. They are not considered a major oil exporter.

Amer Khader said...

This israeli terrorist attack on Gaza is a war crime and a massacrre against millions of people under the name of fighting the "palestinian resistance". Actually NO, These attacks are just war crimes done by criminals. One third of the 393 Palestinian being killed are civilians, 53 are children under the age of 18, including 5 sisters, 2 brothers and 2 sisters of age 4 and 11! Al-Shifa hospital have been boombed more than once, and eventually all its patients have been evacuated from it! A mosques have been bombed, A school, the trees, and the peace itself has been assassintaed by "israel" and its terror. What israel is doing is a massive and collective punishment towards millions of people, where gaza is the corwdest area in the world, with more than 1.4 million resident in a place of 360KM sqyared. These are crimes against human rights. We as Palestinian people have the full right for resistance accourding to the UN Charter where it says that "every oppressed people or nations have the right for self-determination and resistance". What israel is doing nowadays is violation to Article 33 of the 4th Genueva Convention.

dirk said...

Wow, this has been the best Hanukkah present since my first big wheel. To see the IDF go out and smoke the bad guys on YouTube is a real joy. As for Amer I have a couple of suggestions:
1) convert to Christianity, it might improve your outlook and 2) take a look at Egypt and Jordan and see how safe those people who make peace w/Israel are.

Shalom to Sharna, and good luck finding a nice Jewish husband in the Homeland.

sharna said...

This is a response to Amer:
Any civilian killed in a military attack is atrocious, especially children. What I don't understand is how Hamas can justify using its civilian population and religious institutions (mosques) as human shields in this conflict. Also at least two of the people killed by Hamas rockets inside of Israel were Arab civilians.

To Dirk, I don't see how war can bring anyone joy. War is an option, but not a joyous one.

and not looking for husband in Israel. But thanks for thinking of me :)

dirk said...

Sharna, I don't blame you for not looking for an Israeli husband. Invariably they move to the US, stay chronically underemployed, and make frequent returns to Israel for extended visits while you keep the home fire burning. As for my joy, I take it where I can. And I see Israel's wars not as an option, but as a requirement for their survival.